A FORMULA FOR GROWING YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

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As a marketer, one of the top questions that I ask myself at the beginning of a project is "How to sell without selling?" Because in this day and age, your audience is SMART. They know when they are being blatantly sold to, and they don't like it. Especially on social media. It's now more important than ever to use creative methods to get your content seen - and seen by the right people. Because the right people are the ones who are genuinely interested in what you're creating and are the ones who will stick around throughout your journey. 

So what separates the people who succeed from the people who don't succeed?

Well, there's a bit of an informal formula. If you take a look at what the successful bloggers, youtubers, and top online content creators are doing, you'll see that they are all following a similar foundation in their approach to social media marketing. 

Here's what you need to keep in mind...

QUALITY

When you're first starting out you might think that you need to have the highest quality videos with the best lighting and sound, or the highest quality blog photos. However, I see so many creatives who never actually launch their project because they think the production value of their content needs to be top notch right from the start. And that often seems like an unattainable goal.

Keep this in mind: as long as you are bringing value to your target audience, it's OK if your video quality or blog photo quality isn't quite where you want it to be. 

Also keep in mind that this is where many big corporations fail when it comes to social media marketing. They create ultra-high quality content, but it fails to connect with their target audience because it's too polished. They approach their marketing videos and ads like commercials, which often comes across as too salesy. And that's not what people are on social media to see. Especially millennials; we can spot an ad a mile away. ;)

VALUE

People won't care about the content you create if you are not providing them with something of value. To truly succeed, you always have to be thinking about how you can bring value to your audience, and how you can help them. 

Never produce a piece a content solely with the intent of getting something out of it. If you do this, you will fail. Your audience will intuitively feel that it's not genuine. 

Think of your relationship with your audience as unconditional. There should be no conditions in place, meaning that your audience can access your content without being expected to do anything. You're simply giving it away to provide some value to them. 

When you give away value for free without expecting anything in return, your audience is more likely to reciprocate in kind and want to give something back. This can translate into shares, follows, likes, etc. So basically, your audience will grow. 

CONSISTENCY

Long story short, you need to be putting out content week-in and week-out. From day one, be consistent. You won't grow a following if those followers can't rely on you to create consistent value for them. 

For example, someone might come across your YouTube channel and absolutely love your videos, but if they see that you haven't posted a video in over six months, they'll likely just watch the videos they're interested in and then leave. They won't become subscribers. 

Remember that if you commit openly to your audience that you'll bring them a new video or blog post each Monday, stick to it. As soon as you miss a week you break that trust, and you'll see your growth halted. 

So no matter what medium you're using to create your content, stay consistent. 

AUTHENTICITY

We as people like to connect with other genuine people and their personalities. As soon as your content becomes scripted and dishonest, we lose that connection. People are attracted to raw and authentic people, which is why you shouldn't strive to put up a perfect front online. Be real. Be genuine. It's OK to make mistakes and just be you, because that makes you relatable. Embrace your unique weirdness, and you'll be golden!

8 FREE SEO TOOLS THAT WILL SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE!

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The awesome things about all these tools is that they 100% free! And that suits my budget just fine. ;)

These are some of my favorite free seo tools because they make it so easy to understand some of the different aspects of search engine optimization, and make boosting your SEO ranking that much easier. So let's dive right in...

1. GOOGLE TRENDS

Google Trends allows you to plug in keywords for the purpose of analyzing the trends and comparing those trends to other keywords. This can be super helpful when looking for keywords for your next blog posts. 

2. GOOGLE ADWORDS & KEYWORD PLANNER

You'll need to create an Adwords account to use this, but don't worry, it's free to do so. While it takes some getting used to, this tool is fantastic. 

3. ROBOTS.TXT TESTER

This site does all the work for you when testing the txt file. Just upload the file and you'll be good-to-go. 

4. HTML / XHTML VALIDATOR

This is an easy-to-use tool that validates HTML / XHTML documents. 

5. CSS VALIDATOR

It's super easy to drop your style sheets in here to validate.

6. GOOGLE PAGE SPEED INSIGHTS

This free seo tool allows you to see your website from Google's perspective. Aim for a site speed of 70 or higher!

7. MOBILE FRIENDLY TOOL

This tool will help you to make sure that your entire website is mobile friendly (responsive). Pop your URL into the box and see what happens!

8. GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Learning the ins and outs of Google Analytics can be time-consuming (and it changes alllll the time!) but it's SO worth it. You can track your visitors, view your top content, and so much more. Google Analytics is the ultimate key to understanding how visitors interact with your site, which in turn will help you create future content and hone in on a efficient design. 

IF YOU'RE USING WORDPRESS...

ALL-IN-ONE SEO PACK

If you're site is hosted on Wordpress, this free tool will automatically optimize your website for search engines. 

YOAST SEO PLUGIN

Yoast SEO is a fantastic tool for Wordpress users. When writing blog posts it forces you to choose a keyword, and then makes sure that you are using the keyword effectively throughout your content. This plugin is gold. 

MAKEUP TALK: BRIDAL MAKEUP RULES + TIPS FOR GETTING PORTFOLIO PHOTOS

Wedding makeup needs to be three things:

  • long-lasting
  • photograph-able
  • timeless (in 10 years when your client looks back on her wedding photos,  you don't want her to cringe!)

Today we're going to go over some of my top tips for achieving the perfect bridal makeup, as well as how to get some great shots of your work for your portfolio on such a rushed day (believe me, weddings are always hectic).

MAKEUP RULES

Always do a consultation about a month and a half before the actual wedding. If you're bride is wearing white, be sure to have her wear a top the same shade of white to the consultation. The makeup look should have enough color to compensate for the whiteness of the gown. 

Makeup application should be done in natural light. If you can, try and set up your makeup station near a window. 

Use the right moisturizer. While a lot of weddings take place outdoors in the summer, this doesn't mean you should slather the bride in SPF. That would be a HUGE mistake. Avoid any base makeup with SPF, as sunblocks reflect too much light in photographs. You risk your bride looking washed out and the shots being overexposed. 

Set foundation and concealer with a loose powder. Always pat powder - gently - across your finished base makeup, being sure to carefully press the powder into any potentially oily areas. This will go a looooong way in holding back shine. 

Use two shades of blush. I like to begin by applying a fairly neutral shade just underneath the cheekbone, from the apples of the cheeks up into the hairline. Then I blend a brighter, natural shade into the apples. This comes across as a very natural flush in photographs. 

Remember that pale colors will look washed out in photos. Instead of using neutrals and pale shades, go a bit brighter than what she normally wears. If a bride is normally comfortable wearing a neutral shade, use something similar as a base as well as layer a brighter pink or red over top. 

Line AND fill in lips with a lip pencil. Doing this before applying the lipstick will make the finished lip last much longer. 

Avoid too much shimmer. Instead of reaching for my go-to shimmer highlight (sad face) I opt for matte/flat white shadow across the brow bone. A matte formula doesn't reflect the light as much and won't come across as shiny or wet on photos. That being said, I'm still all about widening the eyes by using a shimmer highlight on the inner corner of each lid. 

Always opt for a waterproof formula. When it comes to eyeliner and mascara, I only use waterproof formulas on brides, since there are almost always tears. And sweat.

Use a pre-tinted eyelash glue when applying falsies. This will save you time since the dark lash adhesive will blend right into your dark eyeliner. 

HOW TO GET THE BEST PORTFOLIO PHOTOS

At the beginning of each session I always ask the client if they are willing to let me snap before and after photos. Some clients hate the idea of their bare faces being photographed, so it's really important to ask first. That being said, the majority will say yes. 

First off, you don't need a fancy camera if you don't have one. And even if you do, I'm not sure you'll want to lug it around with the rest of your makeup kit. I regularly use my smartphone, and here's how I leverage my surroundings to get the best photos...

LIGHTING

If you were able to set up your makeup station near a window you'll already have a great natural light source for your photos. However, if there is very little natural light available, try heading outside. Just keep in mind that a shaded area is best. 

BACKGROUND

As makeup artists we regularly travel to where the action is. This is (for me) tons of fun, but it means that your surroundings aren't always going to be to your taste. Plus, a client's kitchen isn't something you want in the background of your portfolio photos. My trick? I attached a long piece of neutral, pretty fabric to an old wrapping paper roll which I keep rolled up in my kit. If I'm struggling to find a background when on location, I simply place the roll on top of something and let the fabric hang down as a backdrop. In the past I've set the roll on top of a client's fridge, on top of a bookshelf, off of a fireplace, etc. It works!

ASK THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND BRIDE

Most brides will be more than happy to give you one or two images from their finished wedding album to use in your portfolio. The only downside to this is that it can take weeks and even months to get access to these after a wedding. That's why I always like to take my own informal photos the day-of!

P.s. I have a post coming soon all about using your smartphone to take killer blog and portfolio photos! Sign up below to be among the first to know when it publishes. 

3 MISTAKES BLOGGERS MAKE WHEN TRYING TO GROW THEIR AUDIENCE

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When I first starting blogging I made a LOT of mistakes. Tons, in fact. But I don't look back on those mistakes with regret... I mean, I do, but I'm also really happy with what I learned along the way. Trial and error played a large part in getting me to where I am today, and I wanted to share a few of the BIGGEST mistakes bloggers can make when trying to grow their following. 

1. They focus on growing their audience in the wrong places. 

If you're solely trying to grow your audience on social media, that's bad. Why? Because you don't - and never will - own that audience. It's awesome that you have a huge Instagram following, but you don't have the information you need from that audience to reach them when you really need to reach them. Maybe you have a really amazing blog post that you want people to know about, or you're launching a paid course that you're super proud of... If you're just trying to grow your audience on social media, then you have no way of getting in touch with your followers exactly when you need to. 

So where should you instead grow your audience? 

EMAIL!!!

Email lists are the absolute best because you totally and completely own your following. No algorithm or company can take it from you. And, with an email list you have a real opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your audience. 

Remember. You're email list is precious. Nurture and appreciate it. This means no spamming, and only sending out emails that are relevant and valuable to the people who have trusted you with their inbox, which is basically their virtual home in the online world.

And because someone trusts you and your site enough to allow you into their inbox, it also means that they are more likely to buy from you now and in the future. Seriously, there are SO MANY studies out there that prove this is true. Your email list is literally a gold mine. Emails convert at a much higher rate than social media posts. Fact. This means that if you post an offer on your social media and you send that same offer to your email list, more people are going to buy/click that offer via email. 

Having an email list basically ensures that you're fully optimizing your audience/site traffic, which is especially great if you intend to monetize your site. Having an email list ensures that your messages are actually being seen by the people who you know are interested. Think of it this way; Instagram doesn't notify each and every one of your followers every time you post something new. But if someone opts into your email list, you know that they'll see your message every time you send one to their inbox. 

2. They don't have a strong lead magnet. 

A lead magnet is often a freebie of some sort that you give to people who opt in to your email list. This freebie should help them in some way and provide value. They're giving you their email, so you need to give them something awesome in return to show them that you appreciate their time and trust. 

For example on this site I offer a totally awesome, free branding guide. It took me about a day to put together, and it's valuable because it walks you through creating a cohesive brand from start to finish. This does really well for my site, because most of my readers are new bloggers and/or aspiring makeup artists who are trying to build and grow their brands. And to grow a successful business, your branding needs to be on point.

Your freebie should be hard to resist, and align with the needs of your audience. Not sure what to offer? Just ask. You'd be surprised what you'll learn from doing a few quick polls on social media. 

3. Their opt-in forms aren't strategic.

Would the form shown above grab your attention if you scrolled by it in someone's sidebar? I know that I probably wouldn't give it a second glance. That's because I have no idea what I'm going to get when I enter my email. Be sure to tell people straight away what they'll be getting and why it's awesome. 

It's also important to have multiple opt-in forms around your site, not just in your sidebar. For example on this site I have opt-in forms in my sidebar, in my footer (on every single page), sprinkled throughout my blog posts, and on my contact and about pages. And I do also use pop-ups to collect emails. I know that the word "pop-up" is a bit icky and we automatically think spammy thoughts, but honestly, they work. Like, they really work. Just make sure they're classy and don't bombard your users. 

Something else to keep in mind is that not every opt-in form needs to offer the same freebie. On this site I offer a few. This is because some people might land on my homepage and not be interested in my free branding guide, but they might decide to subscribe when prompted in the middle of a blog post because they're interested in my free Brand Visibility Checklist (which contains 24 suggested daily actions that will definitely help you grow your blog! wink wink).

So why do you need so many opt-in forms? You'd think one would  be enough! But it really isn't. Research shows that on average, we need to see something 7 times before taking action. Plus, you put some real effort into making your lead magnet awesome and valuable, and you want to give your audience several opportunities to nab it. 

...AND NOW FOR A LITTLE BONUS...

A COUPLE WAYS TO INCREASE EMAIL SIGN-UPS

Here are two strategic and efficient ways of increasing email sign-ups!

1. Include an opt-in form in your most popular posts. Head over to Google Analytics to see which of your posts have been receiving the most traffic over the last 30 days or so and be sure to add in an opt-in form at the bottom of each of those posts. 

2. Create a Pinterest Pin to incentive sign-ups. Add vertical "pinnable" images to your blog posts that promote your freebie. Then pin those images from your blog to Pinterest. When someone clicks through from Pinterest it will be because they are already interested in your freebie, and they'll see your opt-in form and sign-up. Done and dusted.  


So what's your biggest takeaway from this blog post? Let me know in the comments below!

 

WHY BACKLINKING IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BLOG + MY FAVORITE LINK BUILDING STRATEGY

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You have a website and/or blog, and you're (hopefully!) creating awesome content for it on a regular basis. But to really get any traction, you need to be seen as an authority in your niche, which means you'll want to rank well in search engine results. So how the heck do you do that? Truthfully, there are many ways, but today I'm going to focus in on the one tactic that works for me time and time again, regardless of how Google's algorithm changes.

The makeup and beauty niche is really over-saturated, so it's totally worth the extra effort that it will take to get your blog noticed by the right people. Here's a good way to get started...

MY FAVORITE 4-STEP LINK BUILDING STRATEGY:

RESOURCE PAGE LINK BUILDING

SEO is allllllll about link building these days. Of course there are other tactics that work, but your ranking in Google still largely depends on the backlinks to your site. And the quality of those backlinks is paramount. The key here is quality over quantity. 

A resource page is a page that exists solely to link to helpful resources on external websites. You can see an example of this on our Tools & Resources page. We use this page to link to digital tools and programs that we feel will help our readers and other professionals in our niche. 

People really like curated lists of helpful resources. If a resource makes it onto one of these curated lists on an authority site, it will be seen as an expert voice. You want to be that expert voice.

The link building strategy we're digging into today discusses how to get your content featured in resource pages on authority websites. The more quality backlinks you have directing back to your site, the more authority you'll have in search results (meaning your site will rank higher and higher).

Here's the exact process I use to get quality backlinks from resource pages...

1. CREATE A HELPFUL RESOURCE

First, you need a piece of high-quality content that will add significant value to these resource pages. This piece of content can be in the form of an infographic, video, digital tool (we just added a link to a great one-minute budget spreadsheet to our Resource page), long-form blog post, e-book or guide, etc. Get creative here. 

Keep in mind that the design of this content will play a big role in how much engagement it gets (you get it, you like pretty stuff too, right?) so put some real time into packaging your content nicely. The time you invest into the design will pay off big time. 

2. FIND RESOURCE PAGES IN YOUR NICHE

There's an easy (albeit time-consuming) way to do this. Try out the following search strings in Google:

  • "keyword" + inurl:resources
  • "keyword" + inurl:links
  • "keyword" + "helpful resources"
  • "keyword" + "useful links"

So for example, if your keyword is "microblading" your search string might look like this:

You'll see in an instant how many potential resource page links are out there. But not every single one will be suitable, so you'll need to asses each one. 

3. ASSESS THE PAGES

When you click on one of the pages in the search results, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is the site legit and up-to-date?
  • Is the site relevant to your niche?
  • Would a link to your piece of content add value to their page?
  • Does the site accept links?
  • Does the site have decent SEO metrics (like Domain Authority and Page Authority)?

4. ASK FOR YOUR LINK!

Now it's time to reach out to the site admin to ask if they would be willing to link to your piece of content. I always do this via email, and my script looks like this:

SUBJECT: Your Resource Page

Hi NAME, 

I recently came across your TOPIC resource page and was impressed with the quality content you promote!

I just finished creating SHORT DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PIECE OF CONTENT: URL. I think it might make a helpful addition to your page.

Regardless, thanks for creating such a quality list of resources!

Rinse and repeat as many times as you can before your fingers go numb over your keyboard and you'll be golden. ;)


P.s. If you're a more visual learner I've also created a short video presentation that sums up everything discussed above. Just click play below!

Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!